Mar 28, 2008

Australia: The Journey Begins

Babs feeds a kangaroo.

The 8th grade class of 2008, on tour in Australia! I call this picture, taken on Sabbath, March 22 at church in Cairns, the "album cover photo" because the kids all look like members of a band on an album cover with their pensive faces, and cool demeanor.

Three girls, Three Kangaroos. Last time we came to Cairns with the 8th grade class of 2000 we were pretty much mobbed by hungry kangaroos at this zoo. This year, for whatever reason, they were much more chilled out. They weren't particularly hungry and when we would try to feed them, they'd take a few bites from the food in our hand, then turn away disdainfully. While last time, we emptied a bag of feed in a few minutes, this time we ended up throwing away the exra food.

Me, a wombat, and the wombat-keeper

A video of some very cute and very active koalas at the Cairns Tropical Zoo, taken on Friday, March 21, 2008.

We spent a wonderful, unforgettable week in Australia. For Babs and I, it was our second trip to North Queensland, and possibly our last trip as class sponsors (as in the years to come we'll have our own child to worry about and thus might be better off letting someone else take over who can devote themselves fully to the students on the trip). The kids were a charismatic, energetic bunch that eagerly embraced the adventures we had every day. We grew close as a group, and I think we were all a little sad when it came to an end and it was time to fly back to Saipan.

The People

The Girls: "S", "J" and "Koala." Defying gender stereotypes, these three were the more adventerous ones on the trip. While the boys preferred to hang out at the hotel or shop (one boy almost opted out of an activity because--I'm not making this up--he didn't want to get his shoes dirty!), the girls were eager to get out there and try out every new adventure they could. They didn't care too much for shopping.

The Boys: "T", "K", "M" and. . .

. . ."Ko". Last spring these boys went camping in the wilds of Saipan, this time their adventure took them to another country!

The Teachers: From Left to Right, Amy and Riki--who were not class sponsors but tagged along for the trip nonethelss, and ended up being a great help to us throughout our journey--and Mai, who stepped into the role of the third class sponsor after Missy's untimely departure. She did a great job. We couldn't have done it without you Mai!

Me, Babs and our unborn little one! This photo was taken at church in Cairns on Sabbath, March 22.

The Place

Tropical North Queensland Australia. This photo was taken on the skyrail heading up to Kuranda. Mai took this photo looking back on the coast with the Coral Sea in the distance. Somewhere beyond the horizon is the Great Barrier Reef!

Barron Falls. These spectacular falls in their full post-rainy season glory were photographed by Amy Foote on a stop on our skyrail journey up to the village of Kuranda.

Me on an ATV on our last day in Australia. This was about as close as we got to the outback in Australia; the drier, scrubbier tablelands of North Queensland. We signed up for a tour via ATV with Blazing Saddles, a working farm that hosts people for tours on horseback and ATV.

The Story To Come

We left Saipan on Thursday afternoon, March 20 and arrived in the vacation town of Cairns, in tropical North Queensland, Australia in the early morning hours of Friday, March 21. The flight was straight south, so we were still in the same time zone as Saipan. We left Australia exactly one week later in the early morning hours of Friday, March 28. So, to capture our Australia experience I'm going to post a new blog every day for the next week, a blog for each day of our time in Australia (thanks, Mai for the idea). Unlike my previous accounts of our class trips to Korea and Singapore, this will only be loosely connected to the chronology of events. I want to encourage you to read other blogs, and I know Mai is planning a day by day account of our trip, so I inivite you to read her blog over the next week, for an on the ground "you-are-there" account of what we did each day. I will be focusing on the broader aspects of our travels, with a different theme conciding with each day of our trip. Here's a brief summary of what we did on each day of the trip as well as a preview of what aspects of the trip I'll be writing about in the next week:

Friday, March 21, 2008-We go to the Cairns Tropical Zoo. This day is represented by this entry, the introduction and overview of the trip.

Sabbath, March 22, 2008--Church at the Cairns Seventh-day Adventist Church and Table tennis with our new friends that night. My entry "Amazing Love: Our Australian Angels" will detail the generous hearts of the lovely people who befriended us from the Adventist church in Cairns.

Sunday, March 23, 2008 (Easter Sunday)--Laser Tag. My entry will be entitled "We had General Lee, They Had General Grant: Lessons in Leadership Learned from Laser Tag"

Monday, March 24, 2008--Water Skiing with our new Australian friends. I'll chronicle this in my Sabbath entry so my entry will focus on "No Worries: The Australian Experience"

Tuesday, March 25, 2008--We visited the Tjapukai Cultural Park and then took the skyrail over the treetops of the rainforest up to the small village Kuranda, nestled in the jungle overlooking Cairns. I will write about "Humans, Nature, and Human Nature: The Aboriginal Experience".

Wednesday, March 26, 2008--Four students and three teachers go white water rafting, two students and one teacher go horseback riding, and one teacher and one student stay at the hostel and do nothing. Find out who and why in Wednesday's entry. I'll be writing about "Rafting".

Thursday, March 27, 2008--We go riding on ATV's in the outback. I'll be writing on "Running In Australia"

Ready to go then? Let the adventure begin!
(Picture taken in the tropical rainforest near Kuranda village)


Mai said...

Good on ya! You got some creative titles there, Maycock. I'm looking forward to seeing our adventures through your eyes! Cheers!

Whimsy Peddler said...

I love the picture of Barbara at the top! Gorgeous!

What a fun trip eh? Kind of wish I would have been there. Looks lovely though! Thanks for sharing.

the Purpose said...

Fun pictures. I'm sure you guys had a great time. Way to go on the kneeboard! You're turning into quite the adventurer. Take care. Strenth and Honor.